Summer Reading

Free Schools by Jonathan Kozol (1972) A period piece by an important critic of the American education system; from his position as a well-educated white person working in solidarity with African-Americans and Hispanics in low-income areas, he offered some fascinating critiques of the middle-class phenomenon of "free schools" (which seems to have been more extensive in the 1970's than contemporary education debates would like to remember...). Working as I do in a small independent school out in the countryside, I found some good perspective in the book on what we need to offer our students to keep them politically conscious.

Are We Rome? The fall of an empire and the fate of America by Cullen Murphy (2007) It's fun to read about ancient times, and fun to have some of my views validated about the imperial nature, and the imperial overreach, of the United States. He points out ways we should down-size; he also thinks our political system is more flexible than Rome's. But Rome lasted for longer than we have so far... It's sad that three years later, we're still in Afghanistan.

The Desert Fathers, translated by Benedicta Ward (Penguin Classics) Among the seekers I hang out with, folks often excitedly point to quirky sayings collected from mystics and monastics of various faith traditions, such as Zen Buddhists, Rumi, Taoist masters (I love Lao Tzu myself). Well, Christianity can play that game too, I discover. They're full of hyperbole, paradox, sincerity, indirection, and wisdom. (Thanks to Han for leaving this one lying around in Bliss House, where I found it, when he left for summer vacation, and thanks to Landis for lending it to Han in the first place. Ah, community.)

Stay tuned for updates on the books I finish next...